NALUX NANO OPTICAL, INC.
65 E.State Street, Suit2000
Columbus, Ohio 43215
c/o Schneider Downs
"Lighting a path to the future with nano-optics."
Diamond milling is a key process in the fabrication of custom micro optics and in fabricating the injection molds used in the plastic injection molding of micro optics. Diamond milling is very similar to conventional milling with CNC mills with one huge difference. Whereas conventional CNC milling creates shapes that are fairly large, diamond milling is capable of creating structres down to 1 micron in size. Not only is diamond milling capable of creating micro structures, but these structures can also take a wide variety of shapes. The shapes can be binary, blazed gratings, Fresnel zones, free forms, and basically any other shapes you can think of.
One of the biggest strengths of the process is relatively low tooling costs. A normal bit for diamond milling costs about $3,000. Custom diamond milling bits cost about $6,000 to $8,000. However, outside of the cost for the bit the only other charge for diamond milling is the time it takes to machine the optic. The machining time for diamond milling is very much dependent on the surface roughness needed, the depth of the structures, and the material being milled.
Diamond milling can also be used on plastics and relatively soft metal alloys. The easiest materials to machine are plastics. Glasses are hard materials and glass optics can't be produced using this process. Plastics are soft and can actually be so soft that they are difficult to machine because the diamond milling bit must go slow so that it doesn't create enough heat to actually melt the surface layer of the plastic. This happens with the material Polycarbonate. You can start out with a water clear piece of polycarbonate but the machining process melts the surface layer and causes an opaque haze to occur on the surface. Diamond milling of metals also takes a long time and is mainly done to create mirrors or molds for either glass or plastic molding operations. Materials that can be used are copper/beryllium alloy for injection molds as well as other metals such as gold for mirror surfaces.
Nalux is well equipped for the diamond milling process and has the technical staff capable of using these tools to make the optics you need. Give us a call and find out about our solutions.